Protein insights may boost lung cancer detection and treatment

Scientists investigating the mechanics of the early stages of lung cancer have identified a new potential treatment, which could also aid early detection of the disease.

Levels of a key protein — called TLR2 — in tumours was found to predict a patient’s survival after being diagnosed with lung cancer, a study shows.

A drug compound that activates TLR2 was tested in mice and was found to reduce tumour growth in the early stages of the disease.

With the five-year survival rate from late stage lung cancer only six per cent — compared with 50 per cent when diagnosed earlier — experts say the breakthrough could help spot the disease sooner and improve patient outcomes.

A group, led by researchers from the University of Edinburgh, discovered that TLR2 helps control some of the body’s defense mechanisms when cancerous mutations occur in cells.

The protein is linked with senescence, a process whereby cells stop growing and secrete a variety of chemicals and other proteins which collectively act as warning signals and defences against cancer.

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